Amy Cunningham
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Summer in this area brings delightful things – the fair, ballgames at Celebration Park and, for the last three years, the Gardner Farmer’s Market.
The market opened on Thursday, June 30 with 14 local vendors selling everything from produce to honey, eggs to handcrafted soaps, fresh baked goods to jams, jellies, salsas and more.
According to Melanie Gieringer, one of the market’s volunteers and a vendor, the group will return to its roots, securing a location just across the street from where they started three summers ago, on the corner of Sycamore and Main Streets.
Second-year vendor Laura Bailey believes the new location will improve visibility and traffic at the market.
“I like the spot where we’re going to be, I think we’ll have more people driving by and we should catch their eye,” she said.
Going to the market has become a social affair for customers, said Joli Winer of Heartland Honey, a third-year vendor at the Gardner Market. Winer and her partner Cecil Sweeney work several markets in the area and they have noticed customers are interested in making a connection with their growers; people are interested in learning about freshness, quality and growing practices.
“The people really like shopping at markets, they like being able to just go to town and get stuff from this area, that’s grown locally and not trucked in from far-away places. People can get to know the vendors, they can visit with their vendors,” she explained. “And Gardner tries to support the market, we feel real positive about being a part of that. It’s close (to home) but it still has a great variety.”
Added Gieringer, most of the produce sold at the market has been picked within a 24 hour period.
“The food is local and it’s fresher (than produce from a supermarket), most of the items are picked the day before they’re sold, some is even picked that day,” she said.
Gieringer said holding the market in town was important to the group, to let residents in the area know about the vibrant farming community that exists here. Many of the vendors reside near the Gardner, Edgerton and Spring Hill areas. Some of the stand operators, like Gieringer, also run a “U-pick” business on their farms. Setting up shop at a farmer’s market is a good way to create awareness and build a customer base.
“I was raised in this area, I know a lot of people in this community, that’s my main reason for participating,” Bailey said. “Gardner needs a farmer’s market; we’re a good farming community. And we need something like that around here to keep people shopping in town.”
The all-volunteer group will be out Thursday afternoons from 4 p.m. until sellout on the corner of Sycamore Street and Main Street. Off street parking is available at the office buildings on either side of the market.